Barbara Barrett's sultry alto/tenor speech-level voice, soprano-range classical training, and her creative styling, have been said to put you in the mind of Cassandra Wilson, and legendary jazz diva Sarah Vaughan when she sings the classic jazz standards of the likes of Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and Thelonius Monk. She also easily covers and is influenced by the contemporary music of Jill Scott, Sade, Floetry, Ledisi, and Oleta Adams, the funk inspired renditions of Chaka Khan, and popular music of Nora Jones, John Legend, Bonnie Rait, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson; R&B arrangements of The Isley Brothers, Levert, Frankie Beverly and Maze, uptempo dance music by The Gap Band, The S.O.S. Band, BB King and ZZ Hill's blues, and select reggae tunes. All are a part of a versatile repertoire that has something for everyone in your audience!
Along with her generous vocal octave range, Barbara's song styling is supported by early music training. Starting with piano at a young age, she progressed to music theory and flute, finally finding her love of vocals at the age of thirteen. Yearly solo competition, choral and small ensemble work, and a brief stint in band, lead to pursuing and receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education, from the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. After graduation, she traveled with The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and The Blossom Festival Chorus, including performances at Carnegie Hall, and in Chautauqua, New York. She then began her study of classic jazz, ultimately including blues, soul, funk, and R&B, as well as gospel and reggae.
In February of 2012, she had her Vegas debut performance at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. Venues in northeast Ohio including The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Club Isabella, The Bop Stop, Mike's Barn Musician’s Clubhouse in Elyria OH, Grand River Cellars in Madison OH, DeLuca’s Place in the Park in Elyria OH, The Pit, Opus, and a variety of other restaurants, clubs, and community events both public and private, have all been graced with her voice and styling. During her frequent trips to New York City, she has been well received on the stages of Smoke, and Cleopatra's Needle in Manhattan, and the historic Zebra Room of the Lennox Lounge in Harlem, receiving personal kudos from Art Blakey's saxophone player, Lou Donaldson. In June of 2013, Barbara shared the stage with nationally acclaimed contemporary jazz ensemble, Urban Jazz Coalition as invited solo vocalist. On October 18 2013, she was invited to share her voice and the stage with the fabulous and versatile jazz flautist Althea Rene, in a guest appearance on Ms. Rene's concert. Other special guests on Ms. Rene's concert included Lin Rountree who is extraordinary on trumpet, energetic sax artist Elizabeth Mis, and "The Saxtress" herself, Ms. Pamela Williams, in a fabulous concert in Cleveland.
Not to exclude her European classical vocal training, when the historic Cleveland Karamu House presented Scott Joplin's opera "Treemonisha", Barbara was given the lead role of Monisha, for which she won an Actor's Guild Award for Best Female Vocalist. A truly well-rounded entertainer, she has stage credits, and been Costume Designer in community theater, has studied and performed West African and liturgical dance, and has been filmed for commercials, promotional video, and television, including being featured in Part V of the nationally aired PBS documentary, "This Far By Faith". In addition to leading her band Barbara Barrett Beyond Category, she's the newest member/vocalist of One World Tribe, world music/reggae band out of Erie Pa.
Recent milestones include her debut performance at Nighttown Cleveland, one of Cleveland's premier and longest standing jazz clubs, promoting her CD"Dawning." Barbara's songwriting and arranging skills are fast becoming evident with her release of "Dawning" (Copyright 2012, BMI), her first collection of original, eclectic, soulful, jazzy material. The collection includes spoken word, swinging, funky, as well as bossa rhythms, background harmony, and even some a cappella lines. "Dawning" has been described by her fans as having a "world-music" feel. Her 1st CD "Joyous!” is a historical tribute to African American sacred music, and is a collection of bluesy, soulful, jazzy arrangements of familiar hymns and spirituals, a Magnificat by African American Catholic composer Leon Roberts, contemporary gospel, and West African traditional music. "Dawning" is played regularly on the airwaves through podcasts, internet, satellite, and terrestrial radio in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa, Botswana, and Japan, as well as here in the US. Both "Joyous!" and "Dawning" can be purchased online! Please see the Discography tab on this website.
In keeping with her behavior modification training experience, she created and successfully facilitated "School House Blues", a creative residency program for high school students, where she's had several years experience as an public school RN. School House Blues focuses on stress identification and management for students through a study of the blues of America. As an objective, students were helped to write their own blues songs! Please email her for information and availability.